This week’s running – 4th to 10th of August 2014

The miles and training are going up

More mileage… More training…

This week was all about stepping training up a level and helping others achieve their goals.

4x 800m reps on the track

I loved my first track experience at Fox Hollies Leisure Centre several weeks ago. Thanks to an early finish from work (early start too, mind), I was able to revisit the track without any questions of whether it was in use by clubs or not.

I’ve been experimenting with warm-up strategies as of late so I decided to try out a 2 mile/3200m easy jog before the sesh. This was going well until a group of youths who had climbed the fence to get to the astro-turf (the gate was wide open, dumb asses!) decided to start heckling me. One of them had the decency to tell his friends to leave me alone given I was just trying to get my warm-up done. Next thing I knew, they’d thrown their football right at my back, which made me stumble a little; this was like waving a red rag to a bull so I picked their ball up and hoofed it into the air, over the the track and over the fence on to the other side into the residential area! I was surprised the ball went as far as it did (must be the leg strength from running) and I now had the last laugh. They all groaned and wandered off-site to try and find their ball. Towards the end of my warm-up, they returned with their ball only to be told to leave the premises by a member of staff that had seen them not pay and climb over the fence. Karma – it works!

The sesh itself was good. I was curious to see how I would fare given I’d been driving for close to 4.5 hours prior to arriving at the track and this seemed to have no ill effects. Each 800m rep was within just a second’s tolerance – that’s the beauty of speedwork on the track where it’s so much easier to get pacing right.

I felt great afterwards and whilst I’m not proactively targeting a fast 5k at the moment, the 800m reps should keep me sharp and make my longer distance paces feel easier.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

Wednesday recovery run

This was the second time I’d sandwiched a short, easy recovery run in between two meatier runs. The benefit is it boosts my weekly mileage and helps to loosen my legs after tougher sessions. I really should have added a recovery run into my marathon schedule – the power of hindsight and all that.

Mentally, I found the recovery run incredibly freeing where I didn’t have to bow to any pre-determined paces or number of reps.

If you’re bored, here’s the Garmin data for this recovery run but really, it’s not worth looking at.

2x 2 miles at half marathon goal pace

I was moving into unchartered waters with this session. Focusing purely on my half marathon development, the aim was to get me running for a considerable time at threshold pace, which as it so happens is around where my target half marathon pace is at 6:45/mile.

If I thought Tuesday’s 800m rep session would be tough, this one took the biscuit because I’d gotten up that morning at 5:15am for a 3 hour drive to King’s Lynn, to then do the return journey a few hours later. I was shagged on the drive and needed a strong coffee and McFlurry to keep me going.

Toeing up at Edgbaston Reservoir, I chose to wear my Kiger trail shoes for that extra bit of grip and confidence given I would be working hard. After my warm-up and during my stretches, a little kid scooted over on his bike and started staring at me intently. After Tuesday’s problem with unruly youths, I had little time for kids bothering me. He pointed at my Garmin and did the universal arms swinging motion for running with an inquisitive look on his face. I nodded and did the universal arms swinging motion back at him. He then drew a circle in the air with his finger and pointed at the reservoir, then counted up from 1 to 4 with his fingers. It was at this point, I realised the kid was deaf… I showed 3 fingers to represent 3 laps, to which the kid widened his eyes and started pretending to be out of breath and pointed back at me. I nodded again and then picked up my bottle of Lucozade and gave him a thumbs up for some cheeky product endorsement (if you’re reading this, Lucozade, I’m running low and could do with a new shipment!). I pointed at the kid’s bike and then drew a circle in the air, also wondering how many laps he had planned (2 laps). By this point, his dad had caught up to him and he moved on but not without waving farewell to me. He was a really sweet boy and I felt pretty shitty for mid-judging him.

Right, on to the session. The target was 3x 2 mile reps at 6:45 per mile. The first rep felt alien but manageable. I was definitely on the knife edge of feeling uncomfortable without going all out. Dave (of the Burton variety) had told me the night before that I could do it and that I’d strung 6 miles together less than 2 weeks prior at a faster pace during my 10k PB. Of course I could do this! I finished the rep, bang on target. The difficulty of doing 2 mile reps at Edgbaston Reservoir was that I would pass the start of each rep due to the 1.5 mile route to then have to pull another 0.5 miles out. Mentally very challenging indeed.

After a 3:30 minute recovery (possibly too long by 30 seconds), I took off for another 2 mile rep. This time, things felt a touch easier for majority of the rep but the final 400m had me blowing hard. I was close to spent but was confident on a different day, I could have squeezed out another 2 mile rep.

During the warm-down, I saw the kid on his bike again. He started waving at me and as we crossed paths, I gave him a high five to leave me with a huge grin on my face all the way home – I must have looked like such a loon.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

I loved last week’s run at Cannon Hill and it was possibly the most fun I’d had at Parkrun for a good while outside of chasing after PBs, so I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted to run this week. During my 2x 400m warm-up reps, I caught Darren (our regular blind runner) wandering along the path to the bandstand and decided to take him there myself. We had a good chat along the way where he told me he’s an ex-Paralympian but had been off for the last 8 months due to injury. First good deed of the day done and it wasn’t even 9am yet! At the bandstand, I had a catch-up with David Brayne who had so thoroughly stuck with me last week. I asked if he fancied a PB attempt and offered to pace him at around 19:30 pace; of course David said “yes” so onwards to good deed number 2.

Bournville Harriers were leading the day as volunteers so there were plenty of marshalling and also running from the club.

During the opening scrum of the startline, Dave Burton had somehow snuck past me and quickly tucked himself into the group with me leading. Periodically, I checked with David Brayne (this is going to get confusing, isn’t it?) to see how he was doing and each time, he responded well. I told him to follow my line as closely as possible to run the shortest route around the course – crucial for PB attempts where every extra step and second counts.

Our pace had crept up by a few seconds so I purposely slowed us down a touch to bring us back in line and ran steadily. We were bang on target for a 19:30 finish and I did my best to deflect any wind and clear a path for David to follow.

Somewhere between 3k and 4k, the pace started to dip and I struggled to hang on – always a danger when the target is so close to one’s own limits. Thankfully, Dave Burton was still with our group and took over on pacemaking duties; I motioned for David Brayne to follow Dave Burton for the rest of the run.

Thankfully, the dip in pace was only momentary because I managed to keep David and Dave in my sights and only 10 or so seconds away. I managed to pick things back up again in the final km and managed to finish in 19:43. I knew it would be close for David Brayne’s PB so I was thrilled to learn he’d beaten it by 3 seconds! Dave Burton was also pleased with his own performance, citing it as his fastest Parkrun for over 4 months. Mission accomplished and a job well done to all involved!

Here’s the Garmin data for this Cannon Hill Parkrun.

Wolverhampton to Birmingham via canals

With a view to increasing distance up to and beyond a half marathon, I had my mind set on running from Wolverhampton back to Birmingham via the canals. Not even Hurricane Bertha would stop me! It’s very rare that I run a point to point route, so this really was unchartered territory for me.

I travelled to Wolverhampton via the Metro and just finding the path to join the canal was a bit of a faff. All was well for several miles until I hit Coseley when the path through the tunnel was blocked off, forcing me to hit street level. I had no idea where I was and a short exploration of the housing estate immediately above didn’t present any obvious way to rejoin the canal, so I carried on running along the Birmingham New Road. Eventually, I arrived in Tipton and ventured back on to the canal but without the knowledge of which junction to come off at (no signs) to merge back on to the Birmingham Canal Old Line. It would seem I wasn’t the only one who went off-course because Suz West had similar problems, ending up at West Bromwich.

I finally reached Oldbury and recognised my surroundings to put me back on my way. By this point, signs reappeared to inform me that I was 7 miles away from Birmingham – I was already on 9ish miles as it was and didn’t fancy covering 16. I came back off the canal near work for 14 miles and made the rest of the way home on the Metro.

Would I do this route again, even with better planning for towpath closures? No. Whilst it offered a nice change of scenery, it took me close to 3 hours including travel to Wolverhampton. A simple out and back route will do me just fine from now on.

Here’s the Garmin data for this not so magical mystery tour.

And here’s this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Identify yourself

Warren Greene, brand editor of Runner’s World, who happens to be a good friend of mine, is a very healthy guy. A lifelong runner and veteran of several marathons, Warren had no reason to expect that a 6 mile run he took back in August 2005 would be remarkable in any way. He set off from his Allentown, Pennsylvania, apartment and headed west toward Trexler Park, no problem. The first several miles rolled by, no problem. He looped through Cedar Beach Park on his way home, no problem.

Then an aneurysm popped in his brain.

Big problem.

Of course, Warren didn’t know at the time that it was an aneurysm. He just knew his head felt as if he’d suddenly walked into a wall. Luckily, he was close to home when it happened. He limped inside and described his symptoms to his wife, and they went to the ER.

Doctors performed a scan, revealing the rupture, and the next morning Warren had brain surgery.

Warren came out just fine, thank goodness. But what a close call. As if the experience wasn’t scary enough, it turns out that Warren hadn’t been carrying any sort of identification at the time. He usually didn’t when he ran. He easily could have collapsed miles from home, leaving EMTs to play detective just to figure out who the hell he was – much less who, if anyone, they should contact at home.

Today Warren wears an ID bracelet every time he puts on his running shoes. So do I. So should you. As far as peace of mind is concerned, it’s probably the best investment a runner can make.

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